Tim Stearns

Founder of Ace Industrial Supply

In 1990, Founder, Tim Stearns, along with one employee, rented office space in Pacoima, CA, growing his business into an industry leader in selling tools and hardware to businesses, contractors, and consumers. Ace Industrial Supply is now home to over 100 in-house salespersons, 35 administrative employees, 14 warehouse employees, and sales offices nationwide.

Where did the idea for Ace Industrial Supply come from?

Although I never advertised in the yellow pages, I wanted to be one of the first names people say. Aces always stick out! The Ace was an Ace of spades because I was young.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As a driven salesman, every day was mostly focused on inspiring our sales staff. This includes looking at what our customers value and thinking of new ideas to communicate that message.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My best winning ideas came from waking up at about 2:00 am and thinking of my business. I would bring the ideas into the office and get my most valued staff into my office and run the ideas by them. In that meeting, we would all make changes that would work better. We then would put out a memo of a new special or new change in commissions that we received well from the sales staff.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One trend that makes me excited is how powerful telemarketing it has done very well during bad times. We’ve grown in every turn down in the economy.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My best habit that I would advise other entrepreneurs to do was work hard. I simply worked from 4 am till 8 pm early in my career. In the first 25 years I rarely even vacationed or took off a day on a whim. It’s incredibly important to put the hours in.

What advice would you give your younger self?

If I did it all over again, I would make a lot more time for my family. My job was stressful, and I convinced myself to overcome stress I would need to do fun things. Now, I would change that and say there is time for work, family, and the fun things I’d like to do in balance.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

To outsource your customer service. I still believe that a good old-fashion phone call is the best way to handle business. There is nothing that beats natural human connection.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I recommend never stop learning. You must continuously be eager to learn new skills and techniques for your business to adapt and grow. With over 35 years in business, I will never stop learning.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

The strategy that worked well for me was to stay in touch with what my competition was doing. I would always make sure to establish Ace as a place that seasoned employees would want to work at.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I found failure is not learning as a CEO how to establish accountability and never settling for less. I joined a CEO group called Vistage and they helped me overcome and learn new strategies to scale Ace Industrial Supplies.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One business idea of mine would be to create a toy line that is COVID or germ-friendly. One that teaches young children how to wash their hands properly and why it’s important to always wear a mask. Also, design the toys to be easily washable and sanitized.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I spent recently was while I was on vacation in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort. I invested in an employee that was working the entire time of my stay who able to ensure I had everything we needed and was truly able to relax.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

While I’m not incredibly savvy, I have found simple programs that allowed me to grow from keeping daily inventory by subtracting sold products on 4 pages of paper as they were sold.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The one book that I live by the most is “How to win friends and influence people” By Dale Carnegie.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is “At first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”.

Key Learnings:

• Over 35 years in business, Founder of Ace Industrial Supply reviews the best steps to grow a business over any hurdle.
• The importance of taking value in your team as they will take the idea into action.
• Why businesses shouldn’t undervalue old-fashion customer service compared to cutting edge technology.